Laadli unfolds White Paper, “How Sensitive, How Nuanced” - A ​Review of Media Coverage of Kathua Rape Case to mark 13yrs of Laadli

India at bottom of the Gender Gap ranking, Ethics for Gender based violence (GBV) coverage, Gender lens in the media reporting, gender sensitive rape reporting and more comes in the spotlight through the findings
Mumbai, 9th June 2018:
Laadli campaign launched by Population First in 2005 to add

ress the mind sets that discriminate against women, promote inequalities and justify gender based violence completes 13 years. Laadli works with the major influencers – media, advertising and youth to change the way India perceives and treats its women. To mark the Laadli Day, and to voice the fact that even today India stands at the bottom of the Gender Gap ranking of countries of the world, the organisation released  a White Paper, “How Sensitive, How Nuanced” - A ​Review of Media Coverage of Kathua Rape Case in the presence of key influencers from the Media & Advertising field.
The event also saw staging of a play ‘Chhed Chhaad Kyun?’ by the founder of "Theatre of Relevance" Manjul Bhardwaj, which is a hard-hitting play against eve teasing and sexual violence, so as to make colleges a safety zone for girls and boys.
The White Paper, “How Sensitive, How Nuanced” argues that considering the issues that still persist in representing rape and gender based violence in the mainstream media, it is absolutely imperative that more studies focus on the “ethics” of journalism, which can then inform detailed gender sensitive guidelines.
Dr. A L Sharada, Director, Laadli, shared, "It is important to analyse and examine how media represents violence against women because concerns such as the subtleties of the language used and decisions about what is included while what is left out not only shape the worldview of the recipients but also affect their behaviour and lives in a more tangible way".
The paper points out that news coverage of gender based violence (GBV) cannot be looked at in isolation, because it cannot be divorced from media coverage of women in general. 
Global View: 
Studies at the global level also have repeatedly revealed that women are underrepresented in news media. The GMMP report (2015) highlighted that women make up only 24% of the persons read about, seen or heard in newspaper, television or radio news and that merely 4% of media stories challenge gender stereotypes in clear terms. 
Laadli White Paper unfolds Indian Perspective on  gender based violence (GBV):
In view of these facts the paper deals with the all important question of what it really means to assume a ‘gender lens’ in the media . Is it merely reporting more incidents about women? Or does it entail something more? It is argued thereafter that in terms of reporting on GBV, particularly rape, a true ‘gender lens’ highlights the gendered nature of misogynist violence against women and the prevailing gender relations that fuel this misogyny, instead of merely reporting rape cases.

Addressing the issue, the study throws light on assuming a ‘gender lens’ in media reporting on rape would also require reporters to become aware of the implicit and systemic biases that they might themselves exhibit while such reporting. 
Section 1 details a few main critiques of the way rape and other GBV is broadcast in news media, such as:
a. concerns determining ‘newsworthiness’
b. ‘victimisation’ of the women
c. homogenisation of victimhood
d. victim blaming
e. pathologisation of the perpetrator
f. obscuring the agency of male perpetrators.
Knowing and really understanding these critiques is the first step towards a more gender sensitive rape reporting.
Section 2 underlines point-wise some ethical and gender related concerns regarding the media coverage of the Kathua rape case in India in January 2018, that came into public light and became a clarion call for many protests across the country. The case involved the long-drawn, repeated gang-rape and brutal murder of an eight year old girl belonging to a tribal community of Kashmir valley, namely the Bakarwals.
Key Points of concern:
a. the delay in the coverage of the case;
b. the stress in the media on gruesome details and the following public protests;
c. using the picture of the eight year old girl and revealing her identity - including her
d. identity determining the manner of media coverage;
e. coverage not being widespread until political aspect was divulged;
f. the case triggering unauthentic speculation and tokenism in media;
g. not covering the structural aspect or specificity of the case;
h. not highlighting the gendered aspect of rape as a tool for political dominance
Section 3 points out some pertinent concerns about media reporting of rape in India in general, both to contextualise and elaborate the discussion around the Kathua case in Section 2. 
Section 4 highlights the need to discuss and expand the core professional ethics of journalism to stress a ‘gender-ethical’ lens that “realistically, accurately and fairly represents women, minorities and other marginalized groups”. 
"It is stressed that assuming a gender ethical lens does not mean adding one more ethical stance to the professional code of journalism but instead requires looking at the existing codes through a gender lens and a rights based approach. In addition, realisation of a gender ethical lens is tied to an ethic of self-reflection- a deeper introspection on the journalists’ personal values", adds Ms. Sharada.
The final section highlights a few practical and philosophical guidelines for journalists with regards to reporting on gender based violence - especially rape, so as to assume and practice a gender ethical stance along with a rights based approach.
Laadli focuses on Youth based campaigns, media fellowships, media and advertising workshops, innovative web based campaigns are undertaken by Laadli to keep the media, advertising and youth engaged with gender issues. We believe that we need to invest in our women, if we really want to emerge as one of the world’s economic super powers. Laadli is our little effort towards that. 

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